October 08, 2009

Miss Photogenic

This is Amna. She's amazing. Here she is at Mickey's Beach, photo compliments of Jim Thornburg. He's a good photographer.

October 02, 2009

Friday Chancellor Blogging

Every Friday, the head of my university, Chancellor White, sends out an email on the state of the campus, sort of like FDR's fireside chats I suppose, but, well... you'll see. At first I discounted the emails, but they appear to be consistently funny, so perhaps it will be a routine. Last week he gave us this gem:
"On the other hand, families to whom this is the second or third child often do a drive-by drop off! These parents are at greatest risk of getting a speeding ticket going home, as they can’t wait to get back and re-purpose their child’s room for something else!"
Of course there's no word on the budget, or the UC-wide walkout by instructors, TAs, and professors in protest of budget cuts and furloughs. No, instead we get this. I don't even understand it. Is he really making a generalization about parents with multiple college grads? They get speeding tickets and throw away they're kid's trophies - I hate multi-collegiate parents, they're all a bunch of jerks. And give me an article before "greatest risk," please.

This week we get a stream of consciousness vignette:
"On my way to the Town Hall, I interrupted a student walking and asked how her school year was starting. “Oh, just fine,” said this sophomore in Political Science. I queried back a little, and she offered that she was flummoxed by a required book being sold-out for a large lecture class… a serious student I concluded privately. And then she confessed she was very concerned about the rising costs and her financial aid… she couldn’t see a path forward yet… a pallor of worry came visibly over her as we concluded our chance meeting. As we parted, I wished her well with her journey as she put her earphones back in… the seriousness of that plaintive moment hit me hard and sticks."
It's too bad that he was beaten hard with sticks, but that's what happens when you let the MS Word thesaurus get out of control..."I queried back a little"... "she offered that she was flummoxed"... "a pallor of worry came visibly over her." Attack of the thesaurasaurus, seriously... and why all the dots?

The purpose of the story? Please, tell us. "This sophomore’s story is an example of why our UCR-2020 plan will be so instrumental for sustaining excellence as we refine and pursue our aspirational vision." I couldn't have said it better myself... I've always needed help to sustain my excellence as I refine and pursue my aspirational vision... and it's like this EVERY WEEK!

October 01, 2009

Thusday Story Blogging

This summer I read the entire collected fiction of Jorge Luis Borges, an Argentinian author from the early/mid 20th century who dealt philosophical themes.

Today we have the short story "The Disk." Read it. It's fun and doesn't take long. A woodcutter meets a beggar who claims to possess the Disk of Odin, an object with "but one side." The woodcutter kills the beggar, but in the process the Disk falls to the ground, up-side-down (or perhaps "only-side-down"). The woodcutter is never able to find it.

What would it mean to be a three dimensional object with only one side? In the afterward, Borges calls the Disk the Euclidean circle "which has but one face," but what does this mean? The Euclidean circle is just a two dimensional circle, like the kind you can draw on a piece of paper. In the two dimensional world (since this is where the circle lives), it has no faces since the face we see is on the plane of the z axis.

But consider this. Draw a circle on a piece of paper, a light circle with a pencil, and then turn the piece of paper over. Magic, the circle is gone. This is a cheap trick, since you can still see the paper that the circle is drawn on, but this is a start. Now imagine that the circle isn't drawn on a piece of paper, but just is (or that it's drawn on an invisible paper). If you were to turn it over in this case, the circle would appear to vanish, since you would have lost the background on which it is drawn that makes the everyday circle-on-a-paper case so trivial.

That's what I can get out of this - my take on 3D objects with but one side. Thoughts?